Even by electric vehicle standards, the original Fiat 500e wasn’t exactly a huge success. The Italian EV was mostly available in California, and sales peaked in 2015 with 6,194 units dropping to 2,250 by 2018. Former CEO Sergio Marchionne also famously claimed the company lost $14,000 on every 500e sold, which meant the less successful it was, the better. So we weren’t exactly surprised when Fiat killed it off along with the gas-powered 500 in 2019.

An electric subcompact with only two doors, limited range and a price tag that started north of $30,000 just wasn’t a car that a lot of Americans were interested in, and on a certain level, we couldn’t blame them. It worked best as a city car, but if you lived in a city where the 500e’s small size would have been useful, there was a good chance that you didn’t have anywhere to park it if you even needed a car in the first place.

And yet, a few years after Fiat redesigned the 500e, it’s decided to again offer the little car in the U.S., this time in all 50 states and without losing money every time someone buys one. So if you want to buy one to drive around Houston, you’ll be able to. You might get crushed by a lifted Chevrolet Silverado HD, but Fiat isn’t going to stop you. I recently got a chance to drive the 2024 Fiat 500e in Miami, and while I didn’t get a ton of time behind the wheel, it’s clear that Fiat put a lot more effort into making its tiny EV a better car.

Full disclosure: Fiat flew me to Miami, paid for one night in a hotel room, fed me a nice meal, bought my drinks, provided the car and thankfully resisted the urge to feed me to the alligators.

2024 Fiat 500e

Photo: Fiat

Before we can get into the review of the new Fiat 500e, we need to rewind back to 2020. I was living in LA’s Koreatown neighborhood and needed a car. I was working for a new site that was too small to get press cars, and the idea of going electric was fascinating. After considering a few other options, I ended up buying a 2015 Fiat 500e. Was it the best EV on the market at the time? Not at all. Was it the best EV I could afford, though? Oh yeah.

While it wasn’t as fun to drive as the Abarth version, man, that little 500e had charm. It was so dang practical, especially with the rear seats down. Charging was mostly free because I found an electrical outlet in my garage that my landlord didn’t know I was using, and I could navigate tight parking situations with ease. Heck, I even strapped a Christmas tree to the roof a few months later. It had its flaws, sure, but it really was the perfect car for me at the time. Plus, unlike a heavily depreciated Nissan Leaf, it wasn’t hard to get 100 miles out of a charge.

Sadly, life happens, and I no longer have my old 500e, but that did mean I had a particular interest in driving the new one. There’s still a Fiat-shaped hole in my heart, and the 2024 500e seemed like the perfect new car to fill it. On paper, that shouldn’t have been hard to do. The new car offers more range from its 42-kWh battery pack, now getting 149 miles compared to the old car’s 87, and it makes more power, too. The 117 horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque the electric motor sends to the front wheels isn’t much by today’s standards, but it’s still an improvement over its predecessor’s 111 hp and 147 lb-ft. It’s also slightly longer, wider and taller for more passenger room without losing the previous car’s charming styling and small stature.

2024 Fiat 500e

Photo: Fiat

When it comes to charging, you’re probably going to want to make sure you have a Level 2 charger nearby. If you stick with Level 1 like I did with my old car, Fiat says it will take 37 hours to fully recharge from five percent. With a Level 2 charger, you can reportedly go from empty to a full charge in six hours. Stick it on an 85-kWh fast charger, though, and you can get an 80-percent charge in about 35 minutes — the old car didn’t offer fast-charging from the factory. You still probably don’t want to try to road trip the new 500e, but at least this time around it’s sort of theoretically maybe plausible.

This time around, the 500e also has features. I didn’t exactly mind not having much beyond a radio, air conditioning, power windows and power steering, but I also bought my car for about $6,000. People spending more than $30,000 on a new car, on the other hand, are probably going to expect something a little more modern, and while there are no Mercedes Hyperscreens dominating the dash, having features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integrated into the infotainment system, multiple drive modes and an updated driver display are certainly nice upgrades.

2024 Fiat 500e

Photo: Fiat

It’s also more spacious inside than you might expect. Priority is, of course, given to the front seats, but I was able to fit my 6-foot-tall drive partner behind me without having to amputate his legs. Cabin materials also feel much nicer than before. I wouldn’t call it luxurious, but it’s nicely designed, and nothing I touched felt like Fiat cut major corners. It’s also not like other cars in the sub-$40,000 price range offer open-pore wood, aluminum trim and Nappa leather seats.

One thing that did stand out to me as a former owner is that the new car’s rear seats don’t fold as flat as they did before. It’s far from the end of the world, but at the same time, it does seem like it would make the new 500e a bit less practical if you’re trying to transport larger items.

Unfortunately I didn’t get much time to actually drive the new 500e, so as much as I wish I could go more in-depth here, there’s only so much that you can learn in less than two hours. According to the car’s computer, I drove the 2024 Fiat 500e for 41 minutes, all of which took place in Miami traffic. Without the opportunity to get it up to highway speeds, I can’t really tell you anything about wind or tire noise, nor do I have any insights into how it handles in the corners or how comfortable the seats are beyond my initial impression that yes, they are pretty comfy and a marked improvement over the old ones.

2024 Fiat 500e

Photo: Fiat

Then again, it’s not like the 500e was designed for carving canyons or cross-country road trips. At the end of the day, it’s supposed to be a tool that gets you from A to B with enough style and charm that you don’t feel like just another appliance. Sure, you could poke fun at Fiat for highlighting the 500e’s 3.1-second 0-to-30-mph time, but on the other hand, I’d argue that it shows the Italian automaker understands that owners probably aren’t going to be hitting highway speeds on a regular basis. They’re going to be driving around town in traffic just like I was. One of the things I enjoyed about my old car was the fact that if you, say, tried to pull out of a parking lot too quickly, it would spin the tires. I’m not the kind of guy to do that intentionally on any sort of a regular basis, but it was part of the car’s charm.

That’s not exactly great for tire wear, though, and most people probably didn’t find it as charming as I did. The new car has clearly been tuned to keep that from happening. While the 500e no longer tries to chirp its tires every time you pull out of a parking lot, it did feel like it had plenty of power for what it is. It doesn’t exactly encourage enthusiastic driving, but if you give it the business at low speeds, it at least feels somewhat quick. Plus, if you happen to have a heavy foot, Fiat will also let you opt for a set of summer tires at no additional cost. Tires also happen to be one of the few options you can pick on the 500e Inspi(red) that I drove. Beyond that, it’s just deciding whether you want red, white, or black paint. Get the red. It’s a good red.

2024 Fiat 500e

Photo: Fiat

A Sport mode would have been appreciated, but that’s also what the Abarth is for. (And you’re definitely bringing the new Abarth to the U.S., right Fiat? Right?) Outside of the Normal setting, you get two other drive modes that Fiat calls Range and Sherpa. Range mode is basically an Eco setting that gives you one-pedal driving, while Sherpa is even more aggressive, killing the air conditioning and making sure you get the most range possible. I doubt most people will use Sherpa mode on a regular basis, but if your battery is low and you’re hunting for a charger, it will probably be nice to have.

Since it’s a single-speed, there really isn’t much to say about the transmission, either. Fiat stuck with a push-button shifter that looks a lot better than it did in the old car, but the downside of a horizontal layout is that putting the car in Drive is a bit of a reach. You’d probably get used to it fairly quickly, but a slight annoyance is still a slight annoyance.

Considering the 2024 Fiat 500e starts at $34,095 with destination included, I get the feeling it will carve out a nice little niche for itself among urban drivers who find its small size to be a feature, not a bug. At the same time, though, since we were only allowed to drive the car for such a short amount of time, I’m going to need a loaner to drive for at least a week before I can get to know it enough to write the review the new 500e probably deserves. Either that, or I’ll just have to wait five years for depreciation to make it inexpensive enough for me to afford, buy one and give it a good, old-fashioned long-term test.

2024 Fiat 500e

Photo: Fiat

2024 Fiat 500e

Photo: Fiat

2024 Fiat 500e

Photo: Fiat

2024 Fiat 500e

Photo: Fiat

2024 Fiat 500e

Photo: Fiat

2024 Fiat 500e

Photo: Fiat

2024 Fiat 500e

Photo: Fiat



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